25 January

Global: Covid infections have passed 99.2 million world wide as the total moves rapidly towards a shocking 100 million people infected with Covid-19 in just over a year. On average, around 650,000 coronavirus cases have been reported daily in the last week. Meanwhile, The global Covid death toll has reached more than 2,130,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 25 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 419,215 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

White House economic adviser Brian Deese was asked on Sunday by Republican and Democratic lawmakers for justification for the $1.9 trillion price tag of the administration’s Covid-19 relief plan. “Part of what we’re asking for is more data — where did you get the number?” said Senator Angus King, a Democratically-aligned Maine independent who participated in Deese’s call. King was referring to the potential cost of the package’s components, versus the total price-tag.

China: China reported a climb in new Coronavirus cases driven by a spike in infections among previously symptomless patients in northeastern Jilin province, official data showed on Monday. The total number of confirmed cases in the mainland rose to 124 on 24 January from 80 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said in a statement, amid the worst wave of new infections China has seen since March 2020.

Residents in Tonghua, a city of about 2 million in northeastern Jilin province which has been locked down since 18 January, complained on social media that the lockdown had left them short of food and medicines, triggering an apology from local officials.

New Zealand: New Zealand authorities have said a new case of Covid-19 that emerged outside quarantine appeared to be the South African variant. Health officials said on Monday that they believed the infected woman, aged 56, contracted the virus from an infected person on the same floor of the Pullman hotel in Auckland where they were both quarantining.

Mexico: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he’s infected with Covid-19 after the country posted record increases in cases and fatalities from the outbreak in the past week. The president announced his diagnosis in a tweet, saying his symptoms are mild and that he’s receiving treatment. He’s also expected to stay on top of the country’s affairs, and will take a scheduled call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Monday.

South Korea: South Korea has confirmed nine additional patients with coronavirus variants that are raising concerns with their potency and contagiousness. All of the patients – four with the UK variant, three with the South African and two with the Brazilian types – were imported, or overseas arrivals, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Korea has confirmed 27 patients infected with one of the three variants in total so far, all imported.

Vaccine updates

Turkey: Turkey received 6.5 million further doses of the coronavirus vaccine made by China’s Sinovac Biotech on Monday, CNN Turk and other media reported, allowing its nationwide rollout to continue. An initial consignment of 3 million doses previously arrived in Turkey and it has so far vaccinated 1.245 million people, mostly health workers and elderly people, according to health ministry data.

Australia: In Australia, the Pfizer vaccine has met strict standards for safety, quality and efficacy, a statement from the prime minister’s office said on Monday, and the vaccine has been approved for rollout in Australia for people age 16 years and older.

Japan: will start its Vaccination program using the vaccine from Pfizer Inc., with the launch expected from late February, Taro Kono, the government’s point man for the campaign, told reporters. The inoculations will start with about 10,000 medical personnel, Kono said.

Myanmar: Myanmar will begin its nationwide vaccine rollout program on Wednesday with the inoculation of frontline health workers and volunteers, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports. Cabinet members including de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint will receive shots on Thursday, said Khin Khin Gyi, director of emerging infectious disease at the ministry.

Lockdown updates

Australia: Amid concern the single case of community transmission in New Zealand is of the South African variant, Australia’s federal health minister, Greg Hunt, has announced the Australian government will suspend the travel bubble with New Zealand for 72 hours.

US: US president Joe Biden on Monday will formally reinstate Covid travel restrictions on non-US travellers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders, according to two White House officials. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the order, also confirmed Sunday that South Africa would be added to the restricted list because of concerns about a variant of the virus that has spread beyond that nation.

California Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to announce Monday the lifting of a stay-at-home order, NBC Bay Area reported, citing a letter from the California Restaurant Association to its members. The letter said senior officials in the Newsom administration confirmed the move with the association.

Hong Kong: The Hong Kong government lifted a lockdown in an area of Kowloon district in the early hours of Monday after testing about 7,000 people for coronavirus to curb an outbreak in the densely populated area.

Israel: Israel on Sunday announced a week-long ban on most incoming and outgoing flights in a bid to slow the spread of new coronavirus variants. The measure will begin at midnight from Monday into Tuesday and remain in effect until Sunday, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.

Netherlands: Protests against a curfew to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the Netherlands degenerated into clashes with police and looting in cities across the country Sunday, authorities and reports said.

Thailand: Foreign tourist arrivals into Thailand plunged to the lowest level in at least 12 years after the country closed its borders to contain the coronavirus outbreak, with a resurgence in infections now undermining efforts to reopen the industry. Tourist arrivals slumped to 6.7 million in 2020 from 39.9 million a year earlier, data from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports showed Monday. That’s the lowest number of visitors since at least 2008, according to ministry data.

Indonesia: Jakarta is extending restrictions of movement by two weeks to Feb. 8, in line with the national policy, to curb a rise in cases in the Indonesian capital. Some of the restrictions include a requirement for religious places and non-esssential businesses to operate at 25% to half the capacity, while no public events are allowed, the Jakarta government said in a statement.

UK: The UK is considering tightening controls at its borders to prevent the import of new strains of coronavirus, which it fears may undermine the success of its vaccination program.

Sweden: Sweden has introduced a travel ban with neighboring Norway that starts at midnight on Monday and runs until 14 February The country has also extended its temporary entry bans from the UK and Denmark, Interior Minister Mikael Damberg said at a press conference on Sunday. “A feared outbreak of the mutated variant in Olso, in combination with the extensive shutdowns may entail a risk of a flood of people to the Swedish side of the border,” he said.

Brazil: Brazilian protesters took to the streets to call for President Jair Bolsonaro’s impeachment as his administration faces criticism over a slow coronavirus vaccination roll-out and a surging death toll from the pandemic. Sunday’s demonstrations were backed by conservative groups, while Saturday protests were organized by left-wing political parties and labor unions.